Synthesizing the Water Diplomacy Framework and Sustainable Development Goals as a Robust Framework for Transboundary Water Conflict Resolution
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CitationNoaman, Ramy. 2016. Synthesizing the Water Diplomacy Framework and Sustainable Development Goals as a Robust Framework for Transboundary Water Conflict Resolution. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractWhen the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is completed, it will join Egypt’s High Aswan Dam (HAD) as part of the world’s only river basin with two megadams—each with no agreed-upon, coordinated operation and no coordination among the riparian countries through which the transboundary river flows. The GERD, once filled, is a prime area where coordination could prove invaluable, but where divergent interests challenge that prospect. For example, Ethiopia could benefit from a rapid fill of the GERD reservoir, upholding its right to equal access to the shared water resource, while generating electricity and boosting its economy. In contrast, Egypt fears an expedited fill, arguing its right not to be significantly harmed by its neighbor’s use of the same river.
I postulate that these opposing interests can be minimized to produce mutual benefit by employing mathematical models and collecting certain data. In order to gauge what impacts different fill rates could have on development in the basin across the water-food-energy nexus, I propose that the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development be used as an analytical lens to assess the intersecting economic, social, and environmental impacts that the GERD might have on each nation. Second, once these impacts are identified, the UN 2030 Agenda’s three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that pertain to the water-food-energy nexus can be modeled using a mathematical river basin simulation model to simulate the range of possible outcomes across five fill scenarios: unconstrained, three years, five years, ten years, and no GERD. Finally, I postulate that the Water Diplomacy Framework (WDF) could then be used to facilitate a mutually agreeable solution by treating these multi-dimensional costs and benefits as fluid currencies within a shared river basin, in contrast to the current zero-sum paradigm over the singular resource of water.
Ultimately, I arrive at three conclusions:
1. The UN 2030 Agenda is a powerful lens through which integration of development priorities can be understood, but national strategy plays an equally important role in customizing those goals.
2. Simulation models can provide a valuable source of objective and testable data to measure potential impacts of the GERD on riparian countries.
3. The WDF can be used to harmonize national priorities between basin-states to enable the GERD’s developmental potential without significant harm downstream that would likely occur in the absence of coordination.
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